why do moths fly towards light?
If they like it so much why don't they come out during sunlight hours rather than at night?
- Anonymous1 decade agoFavorite Answer
Moths use moonlight to naviagte by. Bright lights confuses the poor buggers and hence they go round and round and round...
- Anonymous1 decade ago
They don't like light - they use bright point sources of light as navigational guides.
For the millions and millions of years moths have existed the brightest source of light in the night sky was the moon - you have to forgive them that evolution hasn't cottoned on to the fact that this is no longer the case.
As the moon is so far away you could use it to navigate - say the moon is on my right, so if I keep going in this direction, taking in to account the moons movement I'll be going in a straight line - thats possible because the moon is so far away the light from it tends to be parallel - however a nearby light source such as a lightbulb is giving out light which is not parallel - you say ok I will use this new light source to navigate by - say you want to keep it on your right, as before, you take one step and its no longer on your right! You have to turn to the right to keep it in the same position, at the angle the moths use it makes them spiral right in to the light source. The best you can do if you're a kindly human, is turn off the light source and give them a route outdoors and maybe they'll find the moon.
One of the reasons few moths come out in the day is because they are quite clumsy fliers and tend to get picked off by birds when they're not well camouflaged - as it is, they form a large part of the staple diet of many bats.
- SmoLv 41 decade ago
First of all, that's a really interesting question and it is my pleasure to actually discover the answer.
(C&P'd from the link below)
To understand this phenomenon, you need to know about phototaxis. Phototaxis is an organism's automatic movement toward or away from light. Cockroaches are an example of a negatively phototactic organism. You've probably noticed how they scurry back into dark corners and crevices when you illuminate their late-night snacking party in your kitchen. Moths are positively phototactic. They seem charmed by your porch light, your headlights or your campfire (even if it leads to their untimely demise). While there is no definitive explanation for this phenomenon, there are some interesting theories.
Some types of moths are known to migrate, and it's possible that the night sky gives them navigational clues. A moth's up-down orientation might depend in part on the brightness of the sky relative to the ground. Some lepidopterists (moth and butterfly scientists) suggest that moths use the moon as a primary reference point and have the ability to calibrate their flight paths as the Earth's rotation causes the moon to move across the sky. (There is even evidence to support the theory that migrating moths have an internal geomagnetic compass system to guide them in the right direction.) So a moth's attraction to an artificial light or to a fire could be related to orientation, and lead to disorientation -- the moth wasn't "expecting" to actually get to "the moon" (the light source) or to be able to fly above it, so confusion results.
It's also possible that moths have an escape-route mechanism related to light. Imagine disturbing a bush-full of moths at night -- they all fly up and out of the bush, toward the sky. To a moth in danger, flying toward the light (which is usually in the sky, or at least upward) tends to be a more advantageous response than flying toward darkness (which is usually downward).
Moths are more sensitive to some wavelengths of light -- ultraviolet, for example -- than they are to others. A white light will attract more moths than a yellow light. Yellow is a wavelength moths don't respond to.
Another interesting question is: Why do moths stay at lights? A moth's eyes, like a human's eyes, contain light sensors and adjust according to the amount of light the sensors detect. In high illumination, light from each of the moth's thousands of fixed-focus lens facets is channeled to its own sensor (ommatidium). In low illumination, light from multiple lenses is channeled to the same ommatidium to increase light sensitivity. You probably experience a few moments of blindness when you turn on a bright light after your eyes have adjusted to darkness, or when you are suddenly in darkness after being in bright light. A moth's dark-adapting mechanism responds much more slowly than its light-adapting mechanism. Once the moth comes close to a bright light, it might have a hard time leaving the light since going back into the dark renders it blind for so long. In the case that the moth escapes, it won't remember the problem with flying too near the light and will probably find itself in the same predicament all over again.
Another possible explanation for why moths stay at lights is that they are mostly night-flying creatures and eventually respond to the light as they would to the sun -- by settling in for their daytime "sleep."
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Hmmm, Interesting question. The next time I meet a moth, I will ask it.
I think moths act in much the same way humans do.
That same reaction is observed in Las Vegas.
The light is amusing to them. It peaks their interest.
They see it and wonder what it is and try to get closer to it to get a better understanding of it.
You will find that in most every creature.
Light means that there is something going on.
We should check it out.
It could also be a form of radiation. All living things emit some sort of thermal radiation. The more radiaton, the bigger the food source.
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- 1 decade ago
Moths? DOH! The most horrendous creatures on the planet, and also the most clever.
Why? Because when a moth flies round a light, dive-bombing and crashing about, they KNOW that 99 times out of 100 that light is between your bed and the bedroom door. No escape!
- mmdLv 51 decade ago
because every waking hour of a moth's life is a near death experience.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Because Janet Jackson sang a song about it...
- 1 decade ago